Literary talent search proves a great success for 11-year-old Nicola Eldridge from a small village near Bedford.

Young Nicola Eldridge, 11, is one of the proud winners of the RSPCA animal action 2013 Write on! competition – sponsored by Collins School Dictionary – and the proud owner of a new Dell Inspiron laptop computer. The judges read hundreds of stories and had a tough time deciding the winners in each of three age categories, with Nicola’s canine commentary Race for Life scooping the 11-13 year-old crown.

Nicola EldridgeNicola also wins a copy of the brilliant Raccoon Rampage, signed by author Andrew Cope,  a Collins School Dictionary and a Collins Gem Hello Kitty Dictionary.

“A huge well done to everyone who entered,” said RSPCA animal action editor Sarah Evans. “The standard of short stories and poetry entries was really high and choosing the winners with my fellow judges was no easy task.

“But Nicola’s Race for Life is a lovely, thought-provoking story that’s very well written. It’s a very worthy winner.”

The ten shortlisted entries in each of the three categories are featured on the RSPCA website:  www.rspca.org.uk/writeon

Here’s a snippet of Nicola’s story – Race for Life…

It was just another dreaded day at the racing track. I, Lightening, curled up in my kennel – a small, filthy room, barely big enough for me to stretch. It was nearly time for me to race. How I hated racing, all of the dogs on the track knew that if they lost, they may never be seen again. Absent-mindedly, I trembled as I too knew it could be my last race.

I tensed as I heard my door being unlocked. As my cage was opened, I readied myself, and, gathering my feet underneath me, I sprang onto the track and sped away – the race for life had just begun.

 I’m a running dog, a racing dog, a chasing dog, a winning dog, what could possibly go wrong now?  I asked myself as I raced along. The other dogs were merely a blur as I shot past. My only intention was to win.

As we turned the first corner, I saw one of my fellow racers go down and I felt a pang of sympathy. Still, I continued to run way ahead of the others. There were only two more laps to go, I could do it, I was sure.

By the end of the second lap, I was panting heavily and my head swam, but once more, I carried on running. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of my many rivals, dark haired Thunder. She must’ve been going at least 60km per hour and was fast approaching, too fast.

At the last corner, when the finish line was in sight, she cannoned into me, sending me tumbling into the dust. Pain racked through me as my left foreleg twisted underneath me….

To read the full story of Race for Life, go to: www.rspca.org.uk/writeon

Judges’ comments:

Sarah Evans said:

Race for Life is a lovely, thought-provoking story that’s very well written. A very worthy winner.”

Elaine Higgleton described the story as ‘engaging’ and ‘thoughtful’.

Dave Allen, Head of the RSPCA’s Education, Information and Advice said:

“There is almost a poetic quality to the writing, particularly in the third paragraph. The tale is full of emotions and empathy, with each scene in the story so well described that it is possible to see the world from a greyhound’s eyes. There is excitement and tension then fear and despair, all building to a happy ending.”